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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

234                             THE GAY GENIUS

southern outer city, and farther out were various Taoist temples. Some-
times when they came back they had dinner at "the Terrace", which,
was the name of the best wine restaurant in town. Or they could follow
the main South Gate Avenue and visit the famous Tang jewellery shop
or choose lacquer ware from Wenchow or examine the finest herbs at
tKe pharmacy on Paotse Temple Street.

As a matter of fact, there is not very much difference in actual happi*
ness between living a luxurious life and a simple one. The honour of a
high position appears enviable only to one who is unqualified for it.
The usual rule is, one is wanted for a post when he does not want it,
and one wants a post when the post does not want him. Once the
"official craving" is satisfied, being a high official is not likely to be
more fun than being a successful blacksmith. Su Tungpo in a note
"On Happiness and Unhappiness" expressed this point:

"One desires pleasure and fears a hard life. These are sentiments*
one entertains before leading the so-called pleasurable or hard life.
After one is in it, one tries to think of the envy and the fear and finds
that they are gone. Then where are the pleasurable and unpleasur-
able moments after they are past? They seem to be like a sound, a
shadow, a breeze, or a dream. Even these four things are somehow
more tangible. Besides, how is one ever going to find happiness by
countering one illusion with another illusion ? I wish I could express 
this deep truth to you, but I cannot. August 5, 1088."

There were others who looked upon the life at the capital in a mo:
earthly manner. His relative Pu Tsungmeng enjoyed its luxuries 3
the limit. Pu's daughter-in-law occupied herself with nothing else the
whole day but directing the maidservants to drip "butter flowers" in
different designs to be sweetened and solidified and served as desserts.
The daughter-in-law insisted that she would never serve her guests
with butter flowers of the same design a second time, and the maid-
servants were kept dripping these flowers night and day. Pu also had
interesting personal habits, which included "the big wash face", "the
small wash face", "the big foot-bath", "the small foot-bath", "the big
bath", and "the small bath". Every day he would wash his face twice
and have foot-baths twice, and every other day he would have a regulaa
bath. At a "small wash face", during which he washed only his face,
he changed the water in his basin once and was attended by two
servants. At a "big wash face" he changed the water three times, was
attended by five servants, and washed down to his neck and shoulders.
At a "small foot-bath" he changed the water once, was attended by
two servants, and washed up to his ankles. At a "big foot-bath" he
changed the water three times,, was attended by four servants, and